Monday, May 21, 2012

Seeing Reform Past Our Own Noses

It's been about two weeks since I wrote my last post.  It's not because I haven't had ideas.  On the contrary, I've had about five topics I wanted to write about in the past couple of weeks and couldn't find the time.

I was hoping that I'd be writing a post today summing up my experiences at EdCamp Philly.  I was really excited to go to my first edcamp, and had it on my calendar since the day they announced the date.  Unfortunately, the fan belt in my car broke about 20 miles north of Allentown on the way down.  Instead of collaboratively learning about assessment practices and pedagogy, I learned that to make sure when Toyota says they checked your belts and hoses that they really mean it, and that the Chestnuthill Diner in a town called Saylorsburg, PA serves a really good breakfast for an amazingly cheap price.  You can't beat eggs, homefries, corned beef hash, coffee and toast for less than 6 bucks.

What I do want to write about is how we sometimes stumble to see educational reform globally.  I've noticed in many education conversations I've had recently in person and on social media sites that we each tend to see educational reform through the lens of our own experiences when we were in school.  I guess this is natural, and I'm sure that I'm guilty of it at times.  But, it's also dangerous if we are trying to build an educational system that meets the needs of all students.  

Because changing the system based on what would have worked for you or me is only a move forward if it doesn't infringe upon someone else's opportunity to be successful.  The problem is not that the system wasn't designed to do what would have been good for you or me.  The problem is that the system didn't allow for teachers to meet the needs of every child, including you and me.   

Standardizing education, whether it's through nationalized curriculum, standardized testing, coming up with standards for "college and career readiness", or any other means eliminates our ability to customize education for all students.  No matter what we change those "standards" to, there will always be kids whose needs aren't met by them.  Most people aren't "standard." Until we allow for and encourage customization, there will always be a pretty significant population who leave our schools with a legitimate complaint that the system didn't work for them.

And it's not acceptable to deny a percentage of students the opportunity to learn because their talents don't match what is easily measured.

On a separate note, this is the 100th post since I started the blog a little over a year ago.  Thank you to all who read, comment, debate, and share.  I hope that you've had as much fun and gotten as much out of reading as I have from writing.

1 comment:

  1. Michael, I am so sorry you had to miss edCamp Philly but maybe we can both be there next year. I have not been able to attend since the first one but I am still using ideas I got that day!! Congratulations on your 100th post!